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Perspectives in theoretical and Hawaiian ethnobotany : biocultural diversity in two cultivated plants, ʻawa (piper methysticum g. Foster) and kalo (colocasia esculenta (l.) schott)

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Title:Perspectives in theoretical and Hawaiian ethnobotany : biocultural diversity in two cultivated plants, ʻawa (piper methysticum g. Foster) and kalo (colocasia esculenta (l.) schott)
Authors:Winter, Kawika B.
Keywords:Quantum Co-evolution Unit (QCU)
Date Issued:Aug 2013
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2013]
Abstract:The discipline of ethnobotany has accumulated an abundance of data about the diversity of ecological resource-management methodologies, but has yet to do so using standard units of measure such that cross regional comparisons can be made. As a means to address this deficiency in the discipline the theoretical "Quantum Co-evolution Unit" (QCU) is described and defined from the perspective of quantum ethnobotany. The QCU is able to measure changes in a population of co-evolutionary relationships over time--such as the one between people and plants, and is therefore useful in measuring ethnobotanical evolution. Aspects of this are discussed in an exploration of the relationship between 'awa (kava--Piper methysticum) and Hawaiian culture.
Practical application of this theory was done via a study of the relationship between kalo (Colocasia esculenta) and Hawaiian culture. New methods were developed to estimate pre-extinction crisis levels of diversity at between 368-482 distinct cultivars establishing Hawaiʻi a diversity center in the Pacific. From the 18th to 20th centuries Hawaiian taro underwent an extinction period with loss of perhaps 85% of diversity. Taxonomic studies reveal that only 65-73 still exist today. Molecular techniques (AFLP) were used to understand associated genetic drift away from the parent population given its evolutionary history. The AFLP study of contemporary taro diversity in Hawaiʻi demonstrates that genetic diversity is re-expanding. Using this data the techniques of quantum ethnobotany demonstrates that this new genetic diversity opens up opportunities to both increase functional redundancy of cultural uses of taro, and to create new plant-based traditions. Using these techniques this study demonstrates that ethnobotanical evolution has taken place. The AFLP study in conjunction with an examination of the Hawaiian ethnonomenclature system of taro demonstrates that Hawaiian ethnoclassification is based on shared morphological characteristics that are not necessarily reflective of parentage or genetic relationships.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Botany

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